Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arizona governor corrected about statements regarding stopping transplants



Aired January 7, 2011 - 22:00   ET


...Arizona Governor Jan Brewer...

...we invited her on the program. She declined...

...Governor Brewer somehow found time to appear over on FOX News.

During that interview, Governor Brewer downplayed the effectiveness of bone marrow transplants.


BREWER: Bone marrow transplants we still cover, if it is a donor given from the -- from the family, meaning that, if your sister would donate the marrow to you, because it's more of a successful rate.

Those that are outside generally, according to our records, we have that 14 bone marrow transplants have been utilized, and 13 of those people did not successfully live long afterwards.

So, you know, these are difficult decisions.


...not true. In a letter to Governor Brewer, Dr. Jeffrey Schriber, who runs Arizona's largest adult bone marrow transplant center, writes: "Our data was virtually identical to the national data, with 42 -- with 42 percent alive and apparently cured of their disease."


BREWER: A lot of transplants are still being provided in the state of Arizona.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, "ON THE RECORD": By the state of Arizona or privately?

BREWER: By the state of Arizona. The bottom line is, is that we still provide, even with the cuts, heart transplants, liver transplants, kidney transplants, pancreas, and kidney transplants.


...Liver transplants are not fully covered under the new system. The patient who died last week, for instance, was denied funding for a transplant because he had hepatitis C.

...transplant groups say they use outdated, even faulty data.

For instance, lung transplants were cut out entirely because Arizona's version of Medicaid said data showed the surgery did not extend life expectancy. According to, though, which provides the national report card for all major organ transplants, about 66 percent of patients survive at least three years after having the transplant.

...Representatives at transplant programs at four Arizona hospitals wrote her offering cost-cutting measures.

Democratic state lawmakers have suggested dipping into federal stimulus money, $30 million, they say, but they say Governor Brewer has been vague about how much, if any, of that money is left. Some has already gone to fixing the roof on a rarely-used coliseum.

And enough money has been spent on algae research to fund the transplant program two times over. Five families dropped from the transplant list, they have gotten so fed up, they launched a Web site to show just how much money is out there. They say they have identified $2.1 million for Arizona's portion of the settlement with AIG, $6 million in unclaimed lottery prizes, and get this, $1.25 million left over from a recently canceled project to build a bridge to save 250 squirrels, not people, squirrels.

Earlier, I spoke with Arizona Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. He calls Governor Brewer a one-person death panel, also Douglas Gravagna, who needs a heart transplant, was a candidate under Arizona's Medicaid program until the rules were changed.


COOPER: Senator-elect Shapira, I mean, the governor has asked for ideas on how to make up the budget shortfall. She now seems sort of open to ideas.

But the governor's spokesperson released a statement yesterday that reads in part -- quote -- "The minority leader has yet to produce a single proposal to resolve Arizona's massive Medicaid deficit, only this empty rhetoric."

Have there been proposals submitted to the governor?

DAVID SCHAPIRA (D), ARIZONA STATE SENATOR-ELECT: Well, I think one thing that is interesting, the governor has a serious timing issue on this issue. And -- and -- and, in this particular case, I'm -- I'm not the minority leader. I won't be until Monday. I'm not even a sworn-in state senator yet. And so, you know, they're coming out criticizing saying that, for the last year, they have been asking me, when the -- the minority leader they may be referring to is someone who passed away actually a few months ago.

I actually, even though I'm not sworn in as minority leader, have already presented multiple proposals to them. And, in fact, our caucus will introduce a bill on Monday that will offer up just one of those many proposal.

COOPER: What are some of the other proposals?

SCHAPIRA: I mean, there's lots of things that we can do. The one that we will be offering up Monday, in Arizona, we have an accounting credit where, for retailers like myself, if you file your sales tax on time, you get basically a gift from the state, saying thank you for filing on time. That's -- that's about $10 million. That would -- about eight times as much as the cost of this transplant program.

COOPER: What about the stimulus funds?


COOPER: Because the governor's office says it's all accounted for. But -- but you think there's another $30 million that could be used for these transplants, right?

SCHAPIRA: Well, the governor has publicly announced all but $30 million of the stimulus money, of -- of how she plans to spend the stimulus money. We did a public records request. And basically she said to us that the $30 million's been spent.

And in the public records request, she kind of generically said, this much money for public safety, this much money for counties and the cities. Those checks haven't been written. And I can't think of -- I can't think of anything more important than -- than restoring funding for these transplants.

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